The EU Campaign

How did we get « Age-Friendly environments » on the EU agenda ?

In 2012 AGE launched the Campaign “Towards an Age-Friendly EU by 2020” with the goal to shape a fair and sustainable society to all ages. The implementation of the Campaign was mainly driven by three processes which made it possible to strongly influence the political agenda at the European level. One process is the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing (EIP AHA), the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 (EY 2012) and the AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network on age-friendly environments.

The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Aging

The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP AHA) was released in 2010 and is part of the Innovation Union which is one out of the seven flagship initiatives adopted by the European Union to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by 2020. The overarching goal of the EIP AHA is to enable citizens to live longer independently in good health by increasing the number of healthy life years by two. The partnership is described as a triple-win for Europe as it seeks to:

  1. Enable EU citizens to lead healthy, active and independent lives while ageing;
  2. Improve the sustainability and efficiency of social and health care systems, developing EU and global markets for innovative products and services;
  3. Ultimately create new opportunities for businesses.

Based on the vision to find new paradigms of ageing and innovative services for older people, to focus on a holistic and multidisciplinary approach and to develop dynamic and sustainable care systems, “three pillars reflecting the ‘life stages’ of older individual[s]” were formed:

  1. Prevention, screening and early diagnosis
  2. Care and cure
  3. Active ageing and independent living

Additionally, “horizontal issues”, such as regulatory and standardisation conditions, effective funding and evidence based solutions, reference examples, repository for age-friendly innovation, were pointed out.

A result of the steering group was the establishment of six action groups, which focus on the actions needed to address the three pillars and the horizontal issues: adherence, fall prevention, prevention of frailty, integrated care, independent living and age-friendly environments group. All groups released Action plans, available here.

In order to illuminate the importance of age-friendly environments at regional and local level, AGE, CEMR and Eurocities carried out a survey to “Assess the needs of regions, cities and towns regarding a European initiative supporting age-friendly environments”. The result of this study is that the 255 respondents, thereof 81 cities, 47 regions, 31 towns and 96 organizations (universities, NGO’s…) are becoming more and more active in the field of age-friendly environments, but face obstacles such as: lack of funding, limited possibilities to share good practices and information about funding.

Altogether, the activities promoted through the EIP AHA aim at addressing Europe’s demographic change by sharing relevant knowledge as well as fostering the development and implementation of innovative products, services and initiatives.

The European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations

The aim of the European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations was twofold. First, it aimed on the one hand to promote active ageing, driven by the definition of the WHO: “Active ageing is the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.” On the other hand, to take demographic change as a chance to not waste the potential of the so called baby boom generation to participate longer in the labour market. Furthermore, the tenth anniversary of the “International Action Plan on Ageing”, which was adopted in 2002, offered the opportunity to focus on active ageing across Europe that year. Solidarity between generations completed the focus to ensure that neither older nor younger people are becoming a burden to the others as it is also mentioned in article 3.3 of the Lisbon Treaty.

During the year, the Coalition of the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations launched the Campaign “Towards an AGE-Friendly EU by 2020” and issued a call for a Covenant on Demographic Change in its “Manifesto for an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020”. The Coalition believed it was necessary to create a network to enable different stakeholders across Europe to exchange knowledge and good practices. Such an EU Covenant on Demographic Change would offer the necessary political and technical framework to support active and healthy ageing and develop age-friendly environments, similar to the Covenant of Mayors on sustainable energy. The aim is to bring together local and regional authorities and stakeholders, across the EU, who want to find smart and innovative evidence-based solutions and facilitate the creation of an EU repository of good practice.

The AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network on innovation for age-friendly environments

The AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network on innovation for age-friendly environments is an EU-funded network which ran from February 2014 to January 2016. It gathered 29 stakeholders from 16 countries: 13 cities, 6 regions, 5 large EU networks active in the field of ageing or representing large numbers of local authorities or seniors’ organisations, 4 research centres specialised in ICT and ageing policies, a communication agency with vast EU experience.

It looked to set up a large EU wide community of local and regional authorities and other relevant stakeholders across the EU interested in working together to find smart and innovative evidence-based solutions to support active and healthy ageing and develop age-friendly environments across the EU.

Its overarching and long-term goal was to launch the EU Covenant on Demographic Change.

During its 2-year duration, the AFE-INNOVNET Network:

  • mobilised local and regional authorities and other stakeholders – industries, including SMEs, research centres/universities, civil society organizations – to link up, benefit from each other’s experience and work together to promote initiatives on age-friendly environments across the EU;
  • developed methodologies to help local and regional authorities assess the socio-economic impact of age-friendly environments and the benefits of involving older people in the co-production of age-friendly environments solutions;
  • developed a repository of notable and replicable practices in innovative ICT and services solutions with associated socio-economic evidence;
  • launched the EU Covenant on Demographic Change